Parafed Auckland: 50 Years Old
Parafed Auckland – Disability Sport, New Zealand’s oldest and largest disability sport organisation is turning 50 years old in 2016. Starting as the Auckland Paraplegic and Physically Disabled Association in 1966, our goal was to foster games, sports and recreation for paraplegics and the disabled, as well as to cater for their general welfare. In that same year, the Association sponsored and organised a national team of wheelchair athletes to compete at the Commonwealth Paraplegic Games in Jamaica. Two years later, the Auckland Association also combined with fellow organisations to send a team to compete at the Paraplegic Games in Israel. Our formation was closely followed by Otago-Southland, and eventually led to formation of the New Zealand Association (now operating as Paralympics New Zealand).
Sports for the physically disabled, especially those in wheelchairs was considered fairly radical at the time, but high profile athletes such as Pompey Heremiah worked hard to overcome stereotypes as well as role model younger athletes. A milestone moment in the history of the organisation was the building of the Parafed Gym at the Otara Spinal Unit in 1977; this not only gave our athletes and teams a permanent home, but it also proved a huge boost for all disabled sport as patients in the unit where more often than not recruited to join in on the sports taking place.
Fast forwarding to 2016, we now oversee a network of 15 clubs and activity providers – catering to more than 300 active athletes. We plan on celebrating our 50 th Anniversary in style this coming November, hosting a dinner for all current and former athletes, coaches, volunteers and friends. If you would like to receive more information (which will be available in the coming months) please call us on 09 270 2503 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
By Hamish Meacheam
Parafed Auckland – Disability Sport